Recipes with bycatch from the North Sea

The North Sea has a broad diversity of fish species. Sole, turbot and sea bass are on top of the most wanted list; though there are plenty more fish in the sea –literally-, equally delicious yet unfairly unknown. Ever heard of Pout whiting or Weever fish? These fish are considered by catch, they are so difficult to sell only because of their unfamiliarity. Time to change all that!

To make the general public more acquainted with these undervalued fish we started analyzing some 30 North Sea fish including many species that are now considered by catch. A group of chefs, united as The North Sea Chefs, have now committed to put these lesser known species on their menus.

The following recipes are made with such by catch fish. Click on the fish name to see their Foodpairing® tree

Carrot curry soup with orange Pout whiting

  • 25 g butter
  • 45 g leeks, roughly chopped
  • 55 g onion, roughly chopped
  • 400 g carrot, roughly chopped
  • 5 g ginger
  • 1.25 L water or chicken stock
  • curry powder
  • 300 g Pout whiting, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg white
  • 50 g cream
  • 1 pinch freshly grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro, finely chopped

Braise the vegetables with the butter. Add water or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cook the vegetables on low heat. Blend. Season with salt, pepper and curry powder. Keep warm

Blend the fish with the egg white. Put the mixture into a bowl and place in ice water. Stir in the cream little by little. Mix in the cilantro and freshly grated orange peel. Season to taste. Make fish balls using a spoon. Cook the fish balls in lightly salted water. They are done once they start to float.

Put the fish balls in the soup. Finish with extra cilantro.

Braised small-spotted catshark, leek with dill and sauce Duglère

  • 2 small-spotted catshark, cleaned
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 50 ml of white wine
  • 50 ml fish stock
  • 100 ml fish stock or swimming crabs broth
  • 100 ml cooking liquid of mussels
  • 100 ml of cream
  • 1 tomato, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks leek, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped

Chop the cat shark into desired pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the shallot in a little butter. Deglaze with white wine and fish stock. Bring to a boil. Put in the pieces of cat shark. Cover with tin foil and cook in a preheated oven at 200 ° C for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm. Strain the poaching liquid. Add cream, fish stock or bouillon and mussels broth. Reduce to the desired thickness. Blend in a little butter and pass through a sieve

Add the diced tomatoes and chives Bring to taste with salt and pepper.

Melt a knob of butter in a pan. Fry the leeks until tender. Season to taste. Stir in the dill just before serving.

Homemade ketchup

Though they‘re available all year round, tomatoes are at their best in August. Check out how we tune up our favorite tomato application: Tomato Ketchup! In this article we’ll show you how to open doors to tons of new surprising ketchup recipes your guests will surely admire you for.

Making your own tomato ketchup is not that difficult at all. It’s a matter of blending a tomato sauce with an aigre-doux (a classic sweet and sour sauce), sugar and spices. The bonus you get by doing it yourself is you can add your own personal touches; herbs, spices, or even other vegetables or fruits will make your home made ketchup stand out from the retail crowd.

Here is our base recipe:

For the tomato sauce:

  • 5 kg tomato trimmings (especially seeds) or 2.7 kg trimming + 2.5 kg tomatoes
  • 250 g sweet onion
  • 15 g garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 g thyme
  • 10 crushed white peppercorns
  • 2 g salt

Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for approximately 1hour. Blend and pass through a sieve.

For the aigre-doux:

Caramelize 50 g of castor sugar.
Deglaze with 100g of sherry vinegar

For the ketchup:

  • 50g sugar
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of paprika
  • A pinch of ground ginger
  • All of the tomato sauce
  • All of the aigre-doux

Mix all of the ingredients. Reduce to about 900 g. Blend and thickening with a starch thickener.

Allow the ketchup to rest for 1 night.


There are many customization opportunities. Add extra herbs after the thickening step in order to preserve their freshness, spices or condiments could also be added during this step, but can also be applied when mixing the tomato sauce and aigre-doux.  Alternatively they can be used to initially flavor the tomato sauce. Extra fruits and vegetables may be added during the mixing step, partially replacing the tomato sauce. Hard vegetables or fruits need to be cooked before application, e.g. cooked pumpkin puree. In fact vegetable purees can completely replace the tomato sauce. Check out our pumpkin ketchup recipe.

When it comes to selecting your personalizing ingredients, make sure to use the Foodpairing Explorer for inspiration. Here is the Foodpairing Tree of tomatoes as a starting point.

Here are some suggestions:

  • A classic curry ketchup: Just add some curry powder to taste.
  • Tomatoes and strawberry harmonize perfectly with each other. Blend in some strawberries after thickening or add some strawberry jam. Other ideas are raspberries or banana.
  • An Oriental variation: Add lemongrass, ginger and Szechuan pepper when preparing the tomato sauce. Bring to taste with soy sauce or miso
  • An African variation: cinnamon, mace and coriander
  • Try different vinegars: balsamic or blueberry vinegar or even acidic fruit juices like pineapple, passion fruit, orange etc.
  • Smoke a part of the tomatoes on the BBQ or use some smoked bacon when preparing the tomato sauce.
  • Add spiciness: red pepper or chipotle
  • Replace tomato with other vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin, …
  • Use another type of sweetener:  lavender honey combine well with tomato
  • Add a spirit during the mixing step.

Foodpairing recipes based on different types of wood smoke

Continuing the bbq frenzy, in this article we’ll give you a sneak preview of some recipes we’ve designed based on the analysis of wood smoke.

We at Foodpairing® recently analyzed the smoke of different types of wood: apple, pear, cherry wood chips and grape vines. At first glance all woods have similar intensity and aroma profile, yet each smoke has its own specific character.
The apple wood smoke tends to be spicier than the rest, with clove and allspice flavours. The cherry smoke is characterized by its chocolate and peach themes. The pear smoke holds the middle between the cherry and apple, both containing the spicy and chocolate directions, with hints of boiled vegetables. The grape vine smoke is more savory than the rest. This information may help when selecting the right smoke for your recipes.

Smoking products requires a bit of skill, but once mastered it is not really that challenging. So we went looking for alternative ways to smoke and came up with two other for which you don’t need a barbeque.

  • Smoking in a smoke pot on the stove
  • Smoking in a grill oven

When using a smoke port, make sure the chips are not too large, saw dust actually works the best. Place the empty smoke pot on the heat. Put in the wood chips when the pot is hot. As soon as the first smoke has disappeared, one can start adding ingredients on the grill above the smoldering wood.

When smoking in a standard grill oven, it is best to moisten the wood chips before use, as you would do on a barbeque. Water can be used for that purpose, but other liquids may be used for added dimensions. Check the Foodpairing Explorer for inspiration. Why not moisten your apple wood chips with apple juice?
Wrap the soaked wood chips in aluminum foil and place under the grill. As soon as the smoke begins to develop (which may take some time), put in the products to smoke.

Please observe that virtually any ingredients can be smoked. Though traditionally meats and fishes are smoked, excellent results may be achieved when smoking vegetables, fruits or even liquids or dairy.

Here is a preview of the “smoke” recipes that will come online.

pear wood smoked mackrel – avocado – bergamote

grape vines grilled and smoked chicken – fava beans – apple

cherry wood chip smoked orange peel – carrot – white chocolate – mascarpone

apple wood smoke black olive served with a classic Dry Martini



The Barbecue season is open again. Let’s see how Foodpairing can spice up your bruschettas, an excellent opener for any bbq menu.

A traditional bruschetta is easily made. Slice some baguette, grill it, add some tomato basil and the optional mozzarella and you’re done.

But what about when you’re searching for some new combos to put on the toast? Foodpairing offers tons of inspiration for these little appetizers. Just navigate to the Foodpairing Explorer and enter a starting ingredient. Next select matching ingredients and your done. You can start your foodpairing searches from pretty much anything that comes to mind. To keep it simple we selected the bread base as a starting point.

We ended up with following combo:

Cook the peas and blend them to obtain a smooth pea puree. Perfectionists can pass the puree through a sieve for extra smoothness. Put the puree on a toasted slice of baguette. Finish the bruschetta with dried ham, olive oil and some mint sprigs for freshness.

Next recipe follows the same blue print, but with different ingredients (no need to change a winning game). Mix some pickled artichokes. Put the puree on a toast; garnish with a few pieces of pickled artichokes and a few dots of goat cheese (eg Chavroux).

If carefully dosed, a bruschetta can benefit from some sweetness. In the following recipe we mixed cream cheese with chopped spring onions and a little mango chutney. The whole was finished with some extra mango chutney and some lemon verbena.

Castillo de Canena

A few weeks back Bernard, the founder of Foodpairing®, was invited to Castillo de Canena for a Foodpairing event on their estate. Castillo de Canena is a Spanish producer of top quality olive oil. We analyzed two types of their olive oil for the occasion.

Both olive oils show a rich flavor profile which is mainly dominated by green and fatty aroma molecules. The Picual is more green, green banana, apple, cucumber than the Arbequina, which in turn is more citrus, fruity.

The owner of the Rosa Vaño estate used Foodpairing to prepare a whole menu; cocktail, snacks, meat dishes, cakes and more, all incorporating the 2 different extra virgine olive oils.

The green nature of the Picual olive oil connects better with fruit and vegetable preparations, matching perfectly with gaspacho of tomato and strawberrymandarin & pork or Westvlaams Red with potato chips. The fruity and citrus character of the Arbequina olive oil is ideal in cake preparations.


Straffe Hendrik Heritage

The offices of Foodpairing are located on the outskirts of one of Belgium’s most beautiful cities, Bruges. We were of course very happy when the city’s brewery “De Halve Maan” contacted us and allowed us to do flavour analysis on their beers. From now on the beers of brewery De Halve Maan can be paired in the Foodpairing Explorer. Here is an overview of the flavour and Foodpairing potential of one of their most precious beers: De Straffe Hendrik Heritage.

The Straffe Hendrik Heritage is a dark quadrupel beer of 11% alc vol, it has a fruity spicy flavour with flowery and cheesy undertones. A baseline of caramel is underlined by a maturation in oak casks. This adds an oaky complexity to the beer that fades into chocolate, maple and coffee notes. Furthermore the cask adds a touch of vinous acidity to the beer that makes it a complaint food companion that does not overpower, even with its high alcohol. Straffe Hendrik Heritage is a beer with a refermentation in the bottle, so it can be kept for several years, during which time the taste will further evolve.

A green theme lies submerged under the fruity and caramel oaky powerhouses. This interesting observation let us to specifically search for Foodpairing matches in that green direction, in an attempt to highlight this fresh quality of the beer. We found that cucumber and tomato excel in doing just that, the latter also plays on the fruity theme of the beer. These ingredients were the seeds of the following two recipes.

It is well known that crab and other crustaceans pair well with dark and black beer types, this can be backed up by flavour analysis and Foodpairing® theory. Our first recipe can surely be added to the list of pro evidence; it pairs a crab salad to the Straffe Hendrik Heritage. Cucumber and apple – remember the green theme – were added to the salad providing bite and freshness. A tomato coulis was prepared with candied tomatoes in order to give body to the dish and strongly match the beer.

Thrilled by the green theme and the subtle links it makes with the beer; we took it one step further and went all in with a cucumber dessert paired with the Straffe Hendrik. White chocolate was used to add richness, and a texture contrast is being provided by broken coffee meringues. Mind that all ingredients can be found in the Foodpairing tree of the beer… Taste to believe!

A third recipe than we designed to pair with the Straffe Hendrik Heritage is an oxtail stew with aubergade and bell peppers. The links are somewhat more straightforward compared to the previous recipes; focusing on the big roasty and caramellic themes present in the beer. Though we could not resist adding a touch of stubborn innovation in the form of goat cheese, providing freshness while going along with the cheesiness in the beer.

Keep a close eye on the pro journal and website, soon we’ll launch two other beers from the same brewery.

How to make Foodpairing dishes around pea?

After a period of dry weather, the heavy rains of the last days boosted the plants in the garden. We harvest this week dwarf peas like Charmette.

So how do we start to make recipes with produce like pea?
First of all you start looking in the Foodpairing explorer what types of peas we have. For the moment we only have a regular fresh pea.

Looking into the Foodpairing tree of fresh pea, we notice following combinations:

  • Classical ones such as carrot, potato, cod, chicken
  • Less obvious ones such as white chocolate, vanilla, gin, apricot, passion fruit.

For the next vegetarian dish with pea, we have relied on the less obvious ingredients:
Pea – apricot – passion fruit – hazelnut – coffee – peppermint

Why these ingredients?

When tasting fresh, raw peas you will notice the mealy texture. To reduce this texture we made a puree of peas, but this is also too heavy. By adding peppermint you make it lighter. Fresh peas are also sweet, so you can add a sweet component like apricot. To balance this dish we need something acid. An alternative to adding lemon is e.g. passion fruit. Peas work very well with roasted ingredients like coffee, but instead of adding just coffee, we made a crumble with hazelnuts.


  • 200 g apricot puree
  • 50 g passion fruit juice
  • 6 g pectin
  • 50 g sugar
  • 65 g flour
  • 35 g hazelnut broyage (50% hazelnuts mixed with 50% sugar)
  • 40 g butter
  • 10 g powdered sugar
  • 15 g brown sugar
  • ground coffee to taste
  • 200 g pea puree
  • 2 leaves of peppermint
Apricot jam:

Mix the ingredients in a cooking pan. Bring to the boil. Cook for at least 5 minutes. Stop the cooking process when you have reached the desired viscosity.

Coffee crumble:
Mix all the ingredients till you have the structure of a crumble. Bake golden brown in a pre-heated oven of 180°C. Cool down.

Pea puree:
Mix the pea puree with the peppermint. Season.

Fresh peas:
Boil some pea pods al dente.
Remove the peas from the remaining pods and finish the dish with the fresh peas.

Light cream of polder potato with coffee, vanilla and Oud Brugge cheese

When we organized the first Flemish Primitives in 2009, we challenged several Belgian and foreign chefs to show how they apply Foodpairing. One of the results was this potato-coffee-vanilla-cheese combo by Hertog Jan. In the meantime it became a classic at this Belgian 3 Michelin star top restaurant. Tonight Gert De Mangeleer will demonstrate his classic dish at VTM news and explain how he uses Foodpairing.


  • Polder potatoes
  • 250 g cream 35%
  • 200 g shellfish stock
  • 70 g fine olive oil
  • 0,5 l grape seed oil
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • Ground coffee
  • Oud Brugge


For the cream:
Cook the potatoes in their skins in the oven at 250 degrees Celcius and remove the skins when they are cooked. Put 500 g of potatoes in the food processor with the cream, shellfish stock and olive oil, blend and sieve, adjust to taste. Place in an espuma bottle and use 3 gas cartridges, keep warm in a bain-marie at 65 degrees Celcius.

For the vanilla oil: Perfume the grape seed oil with the vanilla. Grate the cheese. Spray the potato cream into a bowl, sprinkle some freshly ground coffee on top ans flavour with 1 spoon of vanilla oil, and then finish with a spoon of grated “Old Brugge”.


Jules Destrooper savory biscuit combinations

Jules Destrooper started out as a colonial trader in spices and has now become one of the best biscuits producers in Belgium. We at Foodpairing® are very pleased to announce we analyzed and added the original Jules Destrooper biscuits to our database. We are talking about their two most famous products: the Butter Crisps and Almond Thins and the Cinnamon Biscuit enrobed with chocolate. Here is an overview of their flavor, Foodpairing potential and of course some recipes we’ve designed.

When thinking about combinations with cookies, one tends to unconsciously steer towards desserts, sweet snacks etc. Here are some great Foodpairing examples:

Almond Thins with mascarpone and blood orange

Cinnamon Biscuit with mango, cream cheese and poppy seeds

Butter Crisps with peanut butter and apricot

Agreed this is where the Jules Destrooper biscuits really shine, but we felt the need for a gastronomic adventure. That’s why we made some savory combinations with the products, of course with the aid of the Foodpairing Explorer. Here are some of our results:

We observe from the analysis that the Almond Thins are rich in benzaldehyde, as to be expected from a biscuit containing almonds ie. benzalhyde’s primary flavour. This flavor is also is also characterizing for cherries and amaretto, yet more savory products with this particular flavour may be found in the Foodpairing tree of the Almond Thin. Foie gras is such a product, containing high levels of benzaldehyde; furthermore, it matches surprisingly well with sweet ingredients. Putting foie gras on an Almond Thin lead us to our first recipe.

The Almond Thin with clams is a more complex combination, linking flavors which are very subtly present in both products …

Since the Butter Crisps are produced with real butter, it’s understandable to find many matches in the Foodpairing tree that are based on the buttery theme, check out the cheeses. We opted for a cheddar – Butter Crips combo to which we added tomato and fried bacon, the result seems to be inspired by the well-known English Breakfast. We added some chili sauce for extra zing.

Another interesting match is chicken, also linked to the Butter Crisps in the buttery theme. Here is the recipe

You do not need to be a gastrophile to understand the power of the apple – cinnamon – chocolate combo. We replaced the cinnamon by its Jules Destrooper counterpart. Though a prodigious combo on its own, we completed this symphony with the aid of Foodpairing by adding Gruyere. Here is the recipe

As explained in our article about Furaneol, chocolate and beef pair great. By marinating the beef in soy sauce we even empower the match and take care of the correct taste balance. A next bite is completed with porcini mushrooms that matches both chocolate and beef. These mushrooms are really great in desserts!


Hamburger and Foodpairing

What happens when you apply the Foodpairing Explorer to Hamburger? We will present two examples; one with fish and one with meat.

The core of the first burger is salmon. So if you want to create variations on top of this burger, select salmon in the Foodpairing Explorer.

Cucumber, kelp, lemon are popping up.

The cucumber and the tangy & salty seaweed bring out the green character of the salmon, while giving nice contrast with the mild meat. The lemon zest brightens up the flavours. Check out this combination in the Foodpairing Explorer®.



  • 100 g ground raw salmon
  • 5 g egg white
  • freshly grated zest of lemon
  • chopped dill
  • fine julienne of cucumber and marinated seaweed
  • 50 g of mayonnaise
  • 15 g of yoghurt
  • freshly grated lemon zest
  • salt and pepper


Mix all ingredients for the salmon burger and season to taste. Make patties and fry them on the grill.

Mix the cucumber julienne with some marinated seaweed julienne

Mix all ingredients for the sauce and season to taste

Italian burger

The core of the second Hamburger is pork. We selected ingredients typical for Italy.


  • 200 g ground veal/pork
  • 35 g sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 g chopped basil
  • 10 g chopped spring onions
  • 30 g diced, fried zucchini
  • 2 aubergines
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • rocket salad
  • salt and pepper
  • deep fried onion rings
  • deep fried potatoes


Mix all ingredients. Make patties of 110 g. Fry on the grill.

Make incisions in the aubergines. Cook them 1h at 180 °C in a preheated oven. Let them cool down for 10’. Cut them in half and remove the pulp. Blend with olive oil and season to taste. Add some red wine vinegar.